The announcement from the White House on Friday regarding ethanol and biofuels was a welcome one in the ag community. Many ag groups praised President Trump for putting a stop to the EPA destroying ethanol demand by issuing small refinery exemptions. Beginning in 2020, if the EPA issues an exemption, the gallons lost from that refinery will be reallocated to a different one.
Indiana Corn Growers Association President and Auburn, Indiana farmer Sarah Delbecq told Hoosier Ag Today, “I think that it’s a reflection of the fact that farmers stepped up and said, ‘This is important to us. This is impacting our industry.’ This is the policy correction, I guess, we needed to uphold the intent of the RFS, and to see that happening going forward is fantastic.”
I asked Delbecq if this announcement provided a little bit of relief, being able to check this issue off the list of worries, as she heads into harvest.
“Yeah, but I mean, I would argue maybe that the list of things to worry about is still pretty long…Not to discredit the importance of an announcement like this and how it will help us going forward and how it will help ethanol going forward, which is one of our main end users of corn, there are still a lot of factors up in the air and there’s a lot of uncertainty.”
Trade, obviously, plays a large role in that uncertainty. Also, the announcement on Friday did not address the gallons already lost over the past two years. Delbecq hopes there is still a path forward on that front.
Additional details in the deal include EPA beginning a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and removing barriers for E15, or unleaded 88, sales. Delbecq says this is good news.
“E15, or unleaded 88, will always be able to compete on price. It offers that higher octane at a lower price, and we know that for a product like gasoline drivers are price motivated. So, I think the more that we can do to make that implementation happen…we got through the part of allowing the sale of it year-round, but now we need to make sure that it’s actually out there and available for purchase. Not just here and there, but everywhere. Not just in Indiana, but across the country.”